In London, where he was named New Designer of the Year in 2005 at the British Fashion Awards, he works out of a studio in Portobello Road, a vintage hub, and a store tucked away in Mason’s Yard, St. James’s. Since arriving on the London fashion scene in 2004, Nigerian-born Duro Olowu has impressed the right people with his vibrant mix of African prints, seventies tailoring, and unlikely color combos. A high-waisted patchwork boho dress—known as the “Duro”—put the brand on the fashion map, and became a cult item in 2005 after being discovered by American Vogue editor Sally Singer and Julie Gilhart of Barneys.
In New York, where he shows during the semiannual fashion weeks, he lives with his wife, Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem.
The patterns and colors of his designs, which are sold around the world to concept stores like Ikram in Chicago and Biffi in Milan, seem intrinsically African. Yet Mr. Oluwu’s fabrics are often British-made prints of his own design. Or they are Italian, French or Swiss fabrics that reflect, in an eclectic, offbeat way, both his African heritage and an international sensibility.